Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces trial on Monday 18 May after an American national is alleged to have swum across the lake in front of her house and stayed there for two days.
Amnesty International called on the UN Security Council and Myanmar’s Asian neighbours to urgently intervene to secure Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from prison.
The current order keeping Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest is set to expire on 27 May 2009. Her party, the National League for Democracy, is reported to have said that the upcoming trial is an excuse to keep her locked up.
“The government of Myanmar must free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at once, without condition, and not return her to house arrest,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar expert.
Amnesty International has also highlighted the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s two female companions, Khin Khin Win and her daughter, who were arrested at the same time and face trial with her.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has recently been in poor health. When her regular doctor, Tin Myo Win, called on her on 7 May, security forces prevented him from entering her house. On returning home, he was taken away by the authorities. Dr Tin Myo Win is a former prisoner of conscience, whose current whereabouts remain unknown.
“Khin Khin Win, her daughter and Dr. Tin Myo Win are now among more than 2,100 political prisoners currently being held in prison in Myanmar,” said Benjamin Zawacki.
“Just like other political prisoners, they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Conditions in Myanmar prisons are extremely bad and jeopardise the health of prisoners.”
“In the absence of a unified international voice, the Myanmar government will continue to act in utter disregard for human rights. Now more than ever, the Security Council and ASEAN member states must send an unequivocal signal to the generals that they can no longer act with impunity,” Zawacki concluded.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for 13 of the past 19 years, mostly under house arrest. In March 2009, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi violated both international law and Myanmar’s domestic legislation.